Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Celebrate Lunar New Year with 'Bang the Gong,' an all-Asian drag show

A woman in a sleeveless green dress and platinum blond wig
Courtesy of Whispurr Water-Shadow
The "Bang the Gong" drag show puts Asian American performers in the spotlight.

Whispurr Water-Shadow and Rylee Raw co-host "Bang the Gong," a drag show that aims to highlight performers who identify as Asian. They have their first in-person show since the pandemic at Chop Suey this Sunday.

Here’s a different kind of way to celebrate the Lunar New Year for you. This Sunday in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, "Bang the Gong" — a drag show featuring an all-Asian lineup — will make its return to in-person performances.

Whispurr Water-Shadow started the show a few years ago, but it was put on pause due to the pandemic.

Whispurr wanted to create a space highlighting the few Asian and Pacific Islander faces in the drag community. She met her co-host of the show, Rylee Raw, at an 18-plus night that Whispurr hosted. Both hosts are Filipino and hope that this show can inspire not only younger generations but everyone in the Asian community.

For Rylee, drag was a space where she could feel like herself.

"It's very hard to be queer and Asian in an Asian household, especially at a young age, so doing this show is also very inspiring for younger generations and also representing queer Asian representation," Rylee said. "It's a part of educating our community what our culture is."

Rylee recalls watching an episode of "RuPaul's Drag Race" where there were several Asian drag queens. It inspired her to try and do it herself.

"I was just like, 'Wow, queer Asians.' These are men that are dressing up as women. I can look so much better than them," Rylee laughed. "They were entertaining and touching a feminine side that I've always wanted to but was always afraid to."

One of the special things about the show is that performers are supported in taking pride in their cultures.

"It's not out of the ordinary for the performers to do songs that are not in English," Whispurr said. "If we could inspire the younger generation to keep the Asian representation on in the Seattle, it would be amazing."

Both Whispurr and Rylee have honored their Filipino culture by performing songs in Tagalog, including the song "Pamela One" by Vhong Navarro. Whispurr says it’s essentially the Filipino “Cupid Shuffle.”

The co-hosts said to prepare for an evening that is "very queer and very Asian."

You can buy tickets for the event online or at the door.

Grace Madigan covers arts and culture with a focus on how people express themselves and connect to their communities through art, music, media, food, and sport.